Monday, July 26, 2010

Saying I'm sorry

“…be reconciled to your brother…” –Matt. 5:24

It’s usually not easy to apologize and say, “I’m sorry.” A prideful heart always looks for excuses and blames the other guy for the problem. But teaching kids to apologize begins with teaching ourselves to admit when we’re wrong. As our children grow into teenagers, they model what they’ve seen in us, as their parents. Let them observe when we make mistakes and be the first to say, “I’m sorry” when the mistake happens.

I grew up with three older brothers and no sisters. I was absolutely clueless about girls and so focused on sports in high school that I didn't learn much there either. By the time I was a freshman at Baylor, I was way behind in the “sensitivity quotient” which is absolutely necessary in dealing correctly with girls.

My buddies and I became friends with several girls in the ladies dorm. So, when we passed a dead squirrel in the road, it just made sense to put it in a box, wrap it up and give it to a friend for her birthday. Thinking back, it was a DUMB thing to do, but seemed so funny to my buddies and me at the time. So I wrapped the box and left it in the lobby at the freshman dorm with a note saying “happy birthday.” What an idiot.

An hour later, I got a call from another upset friend letting me know that the girls were upset and furious. I remember thinking “what’s the big deal, can't y’all take a joke?” But as the reality of what I’d done sank in, I realized how stupid I was. I made a huge mistake.

I apologized over and over to that girl and we are still friends to this day. What she didn't need to hear from me was, “It wasn’t my fault because it wasn’t my idea. The guys with me made me do it,” or “How did a squirrel get in that box?” Now trust me, my family has seen my pride raise its ugly head plenty of times over the years and offer excuses in anger. But hopefully they heard an “I’m sorry” at the end of the episode.

What kids need to hear is a parent that is willing to admit mistakes and to make amends when they happen. The teenage years are insecure years of a child developing into an adult. The freedom and security to make mistakes needs the freedom to fail.

Too often kids aren't willing to risk because they don't sense the freedom from parents to fail. Someone said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t “right the wrong”, but it does help bring closure to the many episodes in our lives that involve mistakes.

Be a parent that admits fault. Be a parent that doesn't blame others. Be a parent that is quick to say “I’m sorry” when mistakes take place.

And your kids will likely follow your example when they do something…squirrely.

By Eric Joesph Staples ©

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